A Lebanese military court on Friday convicted cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed of terrorism and sentenced him to life in prison. Bakri was found guilty [CP report] of belonging to an armed group that plotted to carry out terrorist acts against Lebanese soldiers and was sentenced along with 54 others who fought in clashes with the Lebanese army in 2007. Tried and convicted in absentia, Bakri was reportedly surprised when his lawyer informed him of the verdict. He claims to have never received a summons or an arrest warrant. As Bakri lives openly in Tripoli, a city in the north of Lebanon, and appears regularly on television, it is not immediately clear why he was not arrested. Bakri maintains that the charges are fabricated and has refused to turn himself in.
After living in the UK for 20 years, Bakri fled to Lebanon in 2005 after being named in an investigation by British authorities for allegedly making remarks in support of the London bombers [JURIST reports]. Bakri also reportedly praised insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan while vowing not to inform authorities of any information he learned about future terrorist attacks. In 2005, he denied talking about the bombings and said he planed to return to London. While living in Britain, Bakri headed the now-dissolved Islamist group al-Muhajiroun.